Q: What’s a good game design college?
The general consensus is that it’s not a good idea to attend an "exclusive" school like DigiPen or Full Sail, mainly because they don’t leave much room for a backup plan if game design doesn’t work out for you--which is extremely possible given the fickle nature of the game industry. That being said, certain schools including DigiPen have proven themselves to be viable choices for highly talented students with a "game industry or bust" mentality. Other universities, e.g. RIT, RPI, have jumped on the bandwagon and offered game development curricula alongside the traditional fare--this is a good way to hedge your bets wiht a GD program. We still feel it’s better to major in a broader subject that holds your interest, such as Computer Science in the case of programming, and to develop a portfolio of games on your own time. You will actually look better to employers if you programmed your own work because you wanted to, not for homework; and a background in CompSci lends itself to a host of other options in case you lose interest, or fail to make it, in game development. Also (speaking from experience) it pays more :)
Q: Where can I get a compiler/interpreter/IDE for xxx language?
A: There are plenty of free tools out there. Use Google & Wikipedia to determine which one is right for you. We’ll tell you which ones we use if you must ask, but the "best" one is just as nonexistent as the "best" beginner’s language.
Q: I’m tired of guess the number games!
A: That’s not a question, but if you aren’t just being impatient and feel you have a strong grip on coding, you’ll need a graphics library to put some pretty stuff on screen. Your options depend on the language you're using. For Python, it's pretty much Pygame. For C/C++, the big three are SDL, OpenGL, and Direct3D (part of DirectX). The former is well-suited to graphics newcomers in that it isn’t mathematically demanding, and it also handles things such as creating a window, interpreting keyboard input real-time, and playing sound. DirectX is the industry standard in AAA games, but it takes a bit more effort to accomplish things, and it’s Windows only.
Q: Me and my friends have this great idea for an MMORPG--
A: Stop. First that’s incorrect grammar. Second, MMORPGs are currently the epitome of complex games, and even with a team of experts, it takes years to complete one, because these projects are expensive, and they are massive (it’s in the name!). Unless your "friends" are 10 programmers, 10 composers/musicians and 20 artists, who each have a decade of experience under their belts, and plenty of cash, set your sights much lower. You don’t have to throw out your idea (and you never should), but don’t expect to see it come to fruition after a week of hanging out in your friend’s computer room. We’re sorry, but there’s a reason WoW has a monthly fee…besides Blizzard’s world-domination bent, that is ;).
A: Me and my friends have this great idea for a Minecraft-esque--
Q: Aren't there enough already? Yeesh!
Q: Why did you switch the Q and A before?
A: Just to see if you were still paying attention.
Q: Okay, I’m willing to put in the time and I know I have the skills required. Where can I actually find what I need?
A: If Google isn’t playing nice but you know what you’re looking for, we have a handy collection of links of all shapes and sizes. Read on.